[-empyre-] complicty & a genealogy of disappearance?

David Chirot david.chirot at gmail.com
Tue Jan 12 15:23:34 EST 2010

(i hope to be contributing useful/interesting suggestions; mainly from my
own practice and study; not meant in any way to be anymore than these--let
alone that practice and study never end, so i am learning from al of you,
and am thankful for this--as a personal note, writing of zombies, ghosts,
disappearances, i have been clinically  dead four times and once long ago
had an NDE--hence perhaps these are al but "ghosthumous"--ghost written
posthumous--writings to begin with-!))


this following section was/is part of the note I sent the other day;
however, when I went to send the completed note, i could only, in my haste,
find the first part, which is what i ended up sending at the time.
  Therefore, before continuing to my response for today, here is that "left
out' section--and then today's remarks.

I want to say how deeply much i appreciate the responses from everyone in
all of the posts in al the threads here;  it's a real honor and pleasure to
participate and to be able to learn so much from everyone here--

(rest of previous message:

I think it is interesting  also to examine how--if--wherever there is a
“rebranding” of names there are also the possibilities, questions,  which
may be found in the  “denial of complicity,” in that often denials
themselves are markers of a present awareness of the possibility of one’s
complicity, while at the same time a consciousness that perhaps the
prevailing (“democratic”) point of view of the society said to be involved
in complicity is contingent on one’s self also contributing to that
“majority vote.”

This statement leads in turn to the question of how much one’s “complicity”
may be based on the “lies” of others—and how deliberate and widespread and
yet carefully hidden, concealed, in plain site/sight/cite these lies,
disinformations and misinformations may or not be--

 Via denial and rebranding, one may project on to others, other events,
actions, those things which one is denying in one’s self and one’s actions,
as well as those of the majority—of the culture, the society in which, to
and for which ,one contributes--

Often, denial of complicity may come masked as the sense that what is being
denied, disappeared, refused—is something which might brand one self or
one’s society, cultural milieu, as being morally incapable of such an act,
thereby casting the onus on anyone who claims that this is not so, that
indeed there is a complicity at work.

If one examines many of the propositions taken as “true” for use  in todays’
works, critiques which lay claim to a “purity,” one will find often that
they are  backed up by a “force” of the State, the Bureaucrisies—academic
included—a force which requires censorship, rebranding, the often
questionable shifting of references or citing of references already carrying
within them a dubious yet constantly reaffirmed “truth.”

(Thinking here of Robespierre's "Purity" and "Terror" as necessary to the
State and its preservation, its Security, its uses of Surveillance--)

The hallmark, then, featured by rebrandings, complicities, denials, the
citing of various Authorities whose views themselves one is not to
question—is the “unquestioning acceptance” which is not unlike the fiction
reader’s “willing suspension of disbelief.”

One of the problems raised by the very issues of complicities, assumptions,
rebrandings, denials is simply that of assuming that one’s own assumptions
ARE NOT ASSUMPTIONS—and why?  A myriad answers may come to mind immediately,
among them those already cited here—

Assuming that one’s own ideas are not assumptions, projecting them onto
others, greatly aids in the denial of one’s own complicities, because, after
all, since one unquestioningly accepts one’s assumptions and what ever, who
ever are their bases—one has assumed that one has negated al that is “not

And why has one done so?—again a myriad of questions arise—

 It is the investigation of these questions, and of the “unquestioning
assumptions” and their unquestioning complicities and agreements, citings,
twisted facts etc—which also need to be examined  . . .

 (One finds this as one among several of the long term projects of my own
“New Extreme Experimental American Poetry and Arts”  . . . a number of whose
direct links have been given earlier and which are also found at my blog

http://davidbaptistechirot.blogspot.com <http://goog_1263032039224>

   - *David*-*Baptiste Chirot* // Word For/Word: A Journal of New Writing *
   ...* <http://www.wordforword.info/vol13/dbc.htm>
   Robert Pinsky, former Poet Laureate, while acknowledging the situation of
   *poetry* in a raw state of the *Guantanamo poems*, also remarked: "No
   Mandelstams here *...*
   - KAURAB Online :: A Bengali *Poetry* Webzine :: Translation
   With the *Guantanamo Poems*, as Flagg Miller suggests in his excellent *
   ....* *David* *Baptiste Chirot* is an amazing litterateur, artist, reader
   and critic. *...*

The intermixture of posts there re the arts and politics, action, events etc
is to provide the reader with a sense of my thought/practice in examining
the avant-garde  in terms of the original connection the terms makes between
the arts and the military, and the political aspects of both--in that
today's "avanT' for the most part seems to be a separation of the two, in
order, one might ask, if not to separate itself from any sign of a
"complicity" with the actions of the culture, the society in question.
Oddly, perhaps not unsurprisingly, one finds this attitude very prevalent i
the USA today, the most militarized and militarily involved State in the
world--does this disconnection function as a denial of complicity?  Is it a
sign of a form of self-imposed censorship in the society created by the
continually updated, up-graded, Fear instilled into the society in order to
justify the continually enlarged spheres of military action, torture,
disregard for human rights and the both National and International Laws
pertaining to these--Are there other, outside forces which operate to cause
some level of fear, self censorship--

The new laws passed in the US, the new Acts introduced int he last year,
have steadily moved the goalposts so to speak in the ability of the
President and any number of groups and individuals having any person
anywhere, within and without the US to detain persons without charge for
indefinite periods of time . . . the Obama administration has not only kept
almost al of the Bush administrations' actions in this regard, but greatly
expanded both actions and legal precedents--What has made this possible is
not only a rebranding of old terms, but also the sense that a "different"
type of Administration than ever before--yet in how many ways are the
differences aimed at creating more freedoms in the works and in the US, for
al the rhetoric, and to what extent have the already well established
operations, Laws, actions, prions, tortures--to what extent have these not
only paved the way for those of the present, but for their being largely
unquestioned, for their maintaining without hardly any protest an ever
deeper stranglehold on "speaking out" simply because the Administration has

Indeed, how powerful is not the word Change, as proved during the elections,
not proven to be?--In relation to literature, poetics, how powerful have not
slogans which have to do with the concepts of , for an example among
myriads---a "radical, innovative, experimental writing/arts" become
--unquestioningly--as though "everyone knows to what these terms refer"
"without their needing to say so"--that is, they have become embedded in the
terminology in such a way that to even ask such a question may be to find
oneself considered "typecast" as their "opponent" in some vague way,. when
it is perhaps the one asking questions who is pointing out the moribund
status of the terminology?  or that the terminology of "new" the "avant" has
become itself a reactionary method for distinguishing "who is on what side"
without their being any actual examination or questioning carried out?

My purpose is basically to ask ever more questions as at every level and in
every direction a danger to a culture, a society, is when the asking of
questions becomes considered unnecessary, because there is on the whole an
overall lack of questioning being carried out.. That is the reason, after
all, for al the methods employed and implied of Purity and terror being
linked together--to produce as much as possible a culture, a society of
conformity--in which, to be sure, the concept that the outside or outside is
"gone," "impossible," or only possible via the unquestioned methods set down
as a Holy Writ by so and o or such and such person, group, ideology etc--


Theory preceding action: --i must confess rather than an either/or, i think
often that the i  find more useful a both/and--such as action preceding
theory along with the theory preceding the action----that is, that it's from
actions taken physically as well as in action as language so to speak that
one is able to discern at first the glimpses, then the wider outlines--often
of things which are found rather than sought--

I'm always quoting Picasso in relation with my own works, --to the affect
that as he says:  "I do not seek, I find."

Often when setting out without a map or set of theories, an ideological
point of view other than this one of finding in itself--one finds things
which are otherwise "outside' what may have been a way of seeing only things
predicated by the theory, by the ideology--
in a rather crudely literal way, a certain amount of my writing and almost
all my art works come from the use of found materials, found in the moment,
or which, in a way may be said to find oneself, as one seems to act as an
attractor for certain finds and vice versa--one is attracted to
them--without there being an a priori condition for such events to occur.
The peculiar thing is that with practice, one begins to take notice of
everything found around one as material for work--and the materials
themselves as they "add up" or "lead on"--begin to lead one via
associations, "coincidences," 'synchronicities" to a myriad actions,
materials, quotes, objects cracks in wall etc etc--which begin to formulate
as it were their own 'way' towards further ideas--and out of these, an
attempt not so much at theory, as further questions, possibilities--

The number of times during an hour, a day ,a week, that synchronicities
occur when taken closer note of, is often astounding--as though the ideas,
words, like the ground itself, may be speaking for themselves with their own
particular "views into" or "listening, over hearings into"--various
simultaneously existing levels all interrelated--Deleuze's concept of the
rhizome functions in many ways along these "lines/lines of flight."

"The first symptons we have are always in language," Pier Paulo Pasolini is
quoted In Leonardo Sciascia's great work *The Moro Affair*--a superb example
of a study of a specific language and its interpretations--and how languages
which had been created to conceal may used to reveal also from within the
concealment--how a  language of deliberate "non-communication" s such as
that developed from Italian Christian Democracy by Moro, after his
kidnapping are used by himself to conceal his messages to the outer world
while at the same time carrying within them the concealed clues as to his
whereabouts, his changes in thought, his changing understanding of his
so-called friends and allies. What i love in Sciascia's work is the use of
documents as their own methods for reading themselves, so that their ability
to be changed while appearing to be the same is put into use--

Moro's use of his language as carrier of covert messages is ironically the
fear of the Pentagon vis-a-vis the pubmication of the Guantanamo Poets
poetry:  the US Pentagon et alia were determined as much as possible to
prevent the use of poetic language from being used in alike manner;  thus
choosing non-literary translators to translate the poems into
English--hoping that when robbed of their literary 'effects" and "affects,"
perhaps the poems would be felt to be safe from carrying messages smuggled
as it were outside the prison and into the watchful eyes and ears of the
'terrorts" fellow terrorists "on the outside."  Even as unlikely a group of
literary 'critcis' as the Pentagon is aware of the capability of poetic
language for bearing many levels of meaning simultaneously--

Disappearance:  the disappearcnes of Names on maps preceding the on the
ground disappearance of peoples, the forms of the *Aesthetics of
Disappearance* which Paul Virillio writes of not only in the work of that
title, but throughout much of his work--Disappearance as the function of
rebrandings--disappearance as the function of the establishment unquestioned
slogans, poetic doctrines, ways of reading and writing--disappearance of
persons considered as threats of any kind to any particular institution--the
"Disappeareds" of the Latin American societies subject to naomi Klein's
"Shock Doctrine," to the Milton Friedman "Free markets Make Free
Societies"--Disappearance has become in a sense an action which takes on an
ever wider field of --paradoxically--Appearance--for might one not also
manipulate the disappearance of various persons, ideas, actions so as have
them present a NEW APPEARANCE--

the very vacancy of vacant emptied ares--which create an area surprisingly
filled--by Ghosts, by echoes, by Zombies, which are al the rage today--and,
in amny an area supposed vacant--the stirrings of some as yet unknown or or
unsuspected Outside--whose vey Appearnce is signalled by its non_Appearnce,
or its having adopted the disguise of the Disappeared--making their
"Appearance" seem "impossible"--
for, in the "impossible" may wel be hidden a myriad possibilities which are
simply "hidden in plain site/sight/cite"--
On cable TV--what does one find but the huge terrains of the "Disappeared,"
"Kidnapped," the countless prison shows--the countless means of catching
criminals--and the countless methods of incarceration--of groups arising
among prison gangs--are these to sow simulteaneoulsy Fear and Faith in a
Surveillance and Security society during the age of "the War on
On these shows--to Disappear as a civilian is to reappear as--what? A
star?--Even if dead?--is one then a Ghost who
as an appearance on TV ensures the fifteen minutes of stardom--as a ghost?--

As the Disappeareds multiply world wide--is there not a ghostly sense of
what it means to appear in society as a living person?--who is in a way but
the potential for the Ghostly?--that is, a civilization of Ghosts-to-be
disappearing into the Surveillance areas of cable TV--and surviving as it
were via spin offs--via nationwide several month long searches followed b
trials and endless hours of speculations interpretations--al the while
observed by captive civilizations of prisoners--watching other prisoners--al
of them disappeared from society at large so to speak only to appear on
screen on line--as --Zombies?--

The study of Conspiracy Theory themselves becomes a lifelong obsession
--complete with an every growing number of ghostly Zombie documents that
have Disappeared or--been found or dug out or forced to be released--In a
sense these Conspiracy theories a study in themselves of Disappearnces--of
evidences, of persons,of actions, objects--of History--as well as being the
grounds for continually new takes on the aspect of the unquestioned
acceptance of "alternate readings" as themselves providing ever more
alternate histories, readings, documents--

In a sense, one might posit the generation of Outsides as the methods for
catching the "denied insides" --and these in themselves part of some aspect
never gone out of fashion of the "Bread and Circuses" techniques of the
Romans--after all, if persons wil never stop positing an alternate version
which is unquestioningly assumed to be the "real one," then --among so many
possibilities, is it not necessary that at some point the Official version
be imposed--as the Appearance of a Disappeared Order?--and so in turn
generate more Outsides which in turn supply ever new zones to conquer?--to
generate ever new economies military and linguistic for the roping in and
sustaining of conformities and order--and their own massacres and supplies
of ever more Disappeareds?--

I think a way to find the affirmative and transformative is to continually
question--examine, find--extend via associations--allusions--al manner of
methods and actions large and small--if there is no"closure" or "answer" or
"one way" etc it is because in a sense these al too often may turn into,
lead to, a finality--an extermination--literal and figurative--at any , at
some, at al levels--
of questions, persons, cultures, possibilities--
or--to s situation in which as Orwell writes in Animal Farm
"All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others . . . "

On Mon, Jan 11, 2010 at 3:14 PM, Gerry Coulter <gcoulter at ubishops.ca> wrote:

>  Re: "Is there any way in which we can envision affirmative or
> transformative agency?"
> For whom, by whom?
>  ------------------------------
> *From:* empyre-bounces at gamera.cofa.unsw.edu.au [
> empyre-bounces at gamera.cofa.unsw.edu.au] On Behalf Of Johanna Drucker [
> drucker at gseis.ucla.edu]
> *Sent:* January 11, 2010 8:50 AM
> *To:* soft_skinned_space
> *Subject:* Re: [-empyre-] complicty & a genealogy of disappearance?
>  Thanks for this re-branding discussion. Echoes of Orwell all over the
> place. His prescience and insight are terrifying. But what comes after?
> Also, think Brett's remarks about phase spaces and avoiding outcome driven
> agendas are quite to the point.
> Now the cliff hanger, how will John spin the rug discussion this week...
>  Johanna
>  On Jan 10, 2010, at 10:59 PM, David Chirot wrote:
>  Dear Nicholas and all:
> ----------------
> Now playing: Clarence 'Tom' Ashley - The Coo Coo Bird<http://www.foxytunes.com/artist/clarence+tom+ashley/track/the+coo+coo+bird>
> *posted with FoxyTunes <http://www.foxytunes.com/signatunes/>*
> I think that another form of disappearance much in use today is the use of
> rebranding:  a paradoxical disappearance, in that the things remain the
> same, yet, via the rebranded name, appear to have "changed," making the same
> thing now "disappear" as a NAME. Depending on the depth and distances by
> which the new name has "covered up" the former will be the depths and
> distances of the palimpsest which contains within its strati the varying
> degrees of "visibility," "Clarity" or "obscurity" of the traces of the "old
> name."
> I think that in this sense rebranding becomes a method for essaying to put
> distances between names and things so that "complicity" whether "real" or
> "assumed," is "assumed" to have been "gotten rid of."  For example, in a
> previous note in which i remark on the "distance" created by rebranding the
> "avant-garde" as the "avant" or "post-avant," the change of names might be
> examined as an effort to put distance between the "old school" avant-garde
> and the current "avant," in order to do away with the linking of the art
> worlds with the military and military-industrial worlds in the term
> "avant-garde. (Worlds might be also thought of, named, as "spheres,"
> "theaters," "zones," etc.)
> Simply to be aware of an assumption, to have "recognized" it as such, does
> not necessarily mean that it disappears; on the contrary, the assumption may
> now be examined also as a means of making something rise not simply to the
> "level of consciousness", but to "push the envelope further" and accept the
> assumption as attaining the “distinguished” status of an idee recue--that
> is, an idea, a concept, an image, which is accepted unquestioningly at the
> same time that one is aware that it is an assumption  For, after all, if the
> idea is so wide spread--viral, global--does not this very wide-spreadedness
> guarantee that a "majority" (in the polls, in items sold, in courses taught
> about, with, for it etc. . . ) unquestioningly recognize the assumption
> itself, whether or not it is an assumption—as something which has been, can
> be, taken to be, if not “absolutely, verifiably,  true”, then at least as
> (a widely recognized)  an idee recuee, a cliche, a stereotype, a
> “profile.”
> Here the "majority rules," as an assumption assumed to be one of the
> "hallmarks" of "democracy."  The assumption, brought to the level of
> consciousness, "carries the day democratically" so to speak, and may be
> thought of as not ceasing to exist itself, but to be steadily making other
> things disappear by its "advance." The more widespread, the greater the
> depths, which the "majority assumption" has reached, covered, rebranded,
> "shifted," detourned, the more it will disappear while hidden in plain
> site/sight/cite.  The very immensity of the assumption, and its "apparent"
> "all over effect," a la Richard Wagner's Total Art Work, makes of it that
> famous "elephant in the room" the consciousness of which "towers above" the
> previously constructed ones.  This makes of the New Assumption a "stealth
> juggernaut;" an analogy of which might be "seen" literally, for example, in
> the sudden appearance of the Steroid Bodies in Professional Baseball in the
> period roughly 1997-present. Here, the complicity is a widespread one of
> truly Gargantuan, Paul Bunyanesque actions, complicities, moving from the
> trainers and their assistants and associate in the locker rooms to the
> doctors, the managers, coaches, owners and the Commissioner himself.  yet,
> though it was and is obvious to anyone seeing the sudden immense jump in
> size in the 1997 season--everyone turned a blind eye to the problem for as
> long as possible, in order that the Steroid Home Run derbies--as well as all
> manner of other records falling by the wayside--"rescued" baseball following
> the period of strikes and strike shortened seasons.  Complicity here was
> indeed an immense elephant in the room which everyone saw, but, by breaking
> it up into different "cuts of meat" in order to blame one area at a time of
> those complicit from another,  the "blame" was spread around and eventually
> narrowed in on just a few major figures, the players of course,. to absorb
> the blame and pay the price--the workers at the "bottom" of the hierarchy,
> so to speak, get hell for the sins of the whole Institution f baseball,
> which is not covered by anti-trust laws.
> In a sense, by cutting off the avant from avant-garde, the current avant
> rises to shift the level of complicity from itself, and lay the burdens on
> the avant-gardes like Futurism or many aspects of Modernism.  However, the
> simple shifting of language in order to make things disappear, as seen in
> politics of the avant and the politics as a whole of the USA--in simply
> shifting a word both the avant and politics are complicit in essaying to
> distance themselves from accountability when it comes to say, torture--so
> though it continues to be a widespread practice which continues to have
> drastic effects on the American language, it is assumed to have
> "disappeared," , it has a blind eye to it, because President Obama said that
> it would stop, even though his administration continues on an even grander
> scale than Bush's to make use of torture and to build more secret prisons
> while making the Kandahar torture/prison/rendition flight air filed larger
> and larger and larger--
> For myself, since 9/11 especially, all language in use in the USA are in
> complicity with the actions of torture, what Pierre Vidal-Naquet calls the
> "cancer of Democracy."  Even if one does not deny torture, or the US support
> of the Apartheid State of Israel and its war crimes, as well as those
> committed daily by the USA--even if one does not deny that these are
> happening, there is still the sense in which these things are accepted as
> part of "homeland security's" long reach not only at home but abroad also
> making it possible now for the President to pick any person any where n the
> planet and have them brought to the USA and detained indefinitely without
> any charges being pressed against them
> Torture is just like a Russian artist’s description of language, that it is
> a fascism not because it silences, censors, but because it "forces one to
> speak."  It does not matter what is said by the tortured person--no one
> cares if, as so often happens, the person is lying--what matters is that
> they have been FORCED TO SPEAK--thus eliminating their "fields of choice"
> among varying degrees of silences, agreements, disagreements, lies,
> truths--the forcing to speak as it were, while producing language, destroys
> language as anything other than complicit with the actions and desires of
> the torturer.
> I have been writing pieces for Jerome Rothenberg’s on line developing
> anthology of outsider Poetries and Writings--I noticed it written in a post
> today that there is a question of there needing to be an outside if there is
> to be a chance for a fotm of critique of complicity to arise. One might go
> further which is the basic question that is--is there an Outside at all? To
> these far reaching, devouring complicities supplying the endless tape worm
> hungers of the gigantic maw of nothingness and control--is there an
> Outside?  Or is the Outside in large part eliminated by being devoured on
> the one hand and on the other, like Chairman Mao’s famous "May a hundred
> Flowers Bloom"--being forced to speak in order that it be identified and
> then--executed, disappeared--with "speaking up/out" becoming an immediate
> self-identification necessary to one's being sent to the collective farms or
> to disappearing into the long rolls of documents being scrolled into
> oblivion on which the names are named as the persons vanish—a “roll call”
> called in order that the person answering can now be removed as it were—from
> the rolls of the living—that, by proclaiming oneself “present,” one has
> assured all and sundry of one's imminent absence.
> The Israelis employ a term for that State’s resident citizen Arabs:  that
> they are “present absentees:” that is, while they exist in name and in
> person for NOW as citizens, residents, since the strategies and policies of
> the States are to make them imminently non-persons both physically in name,
> they exist for now simply as those suspended between as it were “being and
> nothingness,” between presence and absence, between their being present as
> yet as presences, and their being very-soon-to-be absences.
> Ass another form of complicity with “disappearances, absences,” the Iraeli
> State unveiled last Spring in the subway tubes of London travel, vacation
> posters for Israel which are not the current “Israel” but the “Greater
> Israel” which is the ultimate goal of the policy of ethnic cleansing and
> land settlement the State is using against the Palestinians living inside
> “greater Israel” and as such being still present on maps via place names and
> other indications of presence, appearance.  To “speed up the process” as
> well as to assure the invited guests of an absolute Security, the psaters
> have “time traveled” to the point in time which they shall be in fact,
> verifiably, true “on the ground.”  Al;ready, before the phsycial fact is
> attained, the Palestinians have “disappeared” from a form of consciousness
> associated with the State: i.e. that its “greater Self” already exists, and
> that those impediments of the map’s Past, have disappeared.  Where to is
> not a question which the posters, maps, tourists, need be concerned.
> Complicity takes place in language before it appears physically—or, in its
> own way, may reverse engineer names so that those of the present have
> already as it were conquered those of the past.
> When one assumes that such maps, posters, stetements of a State or other
> entity are “unquestioningly true” because of the ‘trust” which one places in
> the maker of the statements, the maps, the posters, one has been “roped in”
> as it were, as an accomplice “after the fact.”
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> http://www.subtle.net/empyre
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
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